Spencer Knight outduels UMass’ goaltenders in BC’s weekend sweep

Knight made 60 saves on the weekend

Collegian+File+Photo

Parker Peters

Collegian File Photo

By Noah Bortle, Sports Editor

If Massachusetts hockey coach Greg Carvel is asked about his goaltending, he’ll almost certainly refuse to answer, instead deferring to his assistant, Jared DeMichiel. One thing he will say, however, is that his goaltenders cannot give up more than three goals.

UMass (1-2-1) netminders gave up more than Carvel’s preferred three goals in both games of its weekend sweep at the hands of Boston College (2-0-0).

“We gave up a lot of chances,” head coach Greg Carvel said. “Its not anything against our goaltender.”

On Friday night, Matt Murray got the nod between the pipes for the Minutemen. The senior stopped 28 of the 32 shots he faced. Going up against a talented Eagles offense, his four goals allowed and .875 save percentage fell well below his career marks of 2.26 goals against average and a .916 save percentage.

In Saturday night’s 6-3 loss, Filip Lindberg followed Murray’s performance with a lackluster performance of his own. The Finland native stopped just 17 of the 22 shots he faced, only good enough for a .773 save percentage.

Despite the less than stellar stat line, Lindberg made a few key stops to keep his team within striking distance.

“I thought Filip looked pretty good tonight,” Carvel said. “Any goal that goes side-to-side with a one-time shot, you can’t expect the goalie to make those saves. And we deflected a puck into our own net, can’t expect him to make that save. I can’t recall all five goals, but I thought Filip came to compete. He was not the problem tonight.”

A year ago, the pair of Murray and Lindberg made up one of the top goaltending tandems in the nation. The two both ranked top-10 in goals against average and finished 21st and 14th respectively in save percentage.

“We needed a really good goaltending performance tonight,” Carvel said of Friday night’s game. “We didn’t get that.”

Struggling against BC is something goalies across Hockey East can relate to. A season ago the Eagles caused fits for netminders, averaging 4.00 goals a game—the second-highest scoring offense in the country.

On the other end of the ice, BC’s Spencer Knight looked sharp. A year removed from making the Hockey East All-Rookie team, Knight looks poised for another strong season, posting back-to-back 30 save nights with a save percentage over .900.

“BC is a very good team,” Carvel said. “They’ve got a lot of skill up front and the goaltender is outstanding.”

While Knight looked good in net, UMass still generated six goals on the weekend—in its bench boss’ mind, more than enough to win games.

“Three goals last night, three tonight,” Carvel said. “I think we can score enough to win, but we’re not playing well defensively enough to win.”

While the Eagles tallied more goals in each of the weekend’s two games, they were outshot in each contest—including by a 33-22 margin on Saturday. The onslaught of Minutemen shots meant Knight’s stellar play proved even more vital.

Following the weekend sweep the Minutemen fall below .500 for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

As of now, UMass is slated to take on New Hampshire next weekend with a chance to right the ship, but as Carvel put it: “As for any schedule that’s been put out by the league, I’d throw it in the trash and light it on fire.”

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] He can be followed on Twitter @noah_bortle.